When I first started working out and getting into personal training I thought that the most important characteristics for a personal trainer were to be in really good shape and to be extremely knowledgeable about health and fitness. While those things are great, are qualities to have as a personal trainer, there is one thing that is actually far more important.
This all-important factor really hit me during a consultation with one of my physique competition prep coaches. He had been a trainer for 12 years before moving solely into competition prep, so I was getting some information from him about that experience in addition to my competition questions. I was telling him all about how I wanted to be the best trainer I could, and asking about what certs should I get, exercises to learn, etc. so that I could stand out amongst all the other trainers.
He politely let me finish, and then passed on some sage advice that I'll never forget: "Well, the best personal trainers are the ones that just really care about their clients". Once he said it, it seemed so obvious, but I realized that most of my focus had been on how I could improve myself...make myself more knowledgeable, get more credentials, get in better shape, etc. And none of these things were really the primary concern of my clients.
In fact, when I considered the complaints my clients about past trainers, I noticed it often wasn't things like 'they weren't knowledgable enough' or 'weren't fit enough'. It was more along the lines of 'they played on their phone during our sessions', or 'they were late or missed sessions' or 'the program didn't fit and I disliked the workouts'.
I noticed that in all of these complaints, the trainer could have been the most fit and knowledgeable person ever, and it would not have mattered. So I immediately shifted my focus from making myself more marketable, to working on the exact problems my current clients had and solving them.
One of them had lower back issues, so I studied how I could work on him with that. I learned exercises specifically for him, and it was time well spent. He ended up getting much stronger and leaner, and reduced his low back pain.
Another one of my clients got bored easily and I was finding it difficult to keep her engaged during sessions. At this stage in my training career I was big on keeping lifts consistent so that I could see the clients progression on them on a weekly basis. This means not changing the exercises up much, which is good for some people (even a requirement for more advanced strength athletes), but not for everyone. I decided I would put my own opinions about exercise consistency aside, and learn some fun new exercises so I could change her program up each week and keep her motivated.
As a result she enjoyed the workouts more and got a lot more out of them. Making workouts fun goes a long way towards motivating people, and should be a primary focus for most clients programs.
One person I worked with was having a very tough time in life in general. At their sessions they would often talk about their problems and even break down into tears. It felt awkward and was also mentally exhausting for me. But, I realized I could either give up on them or do what I could do to help.
While it was certainly out of my scope of practice to give them life advice or therapy, I researched and found a lot of great info on how I could help as a personal trainer. I learned ways to modify workouts and offer support, that we're still within the scope of practice of a trainer. While I certainly couldn't solve their life issues, I did a much better job of being there for them in the ways that I could as a trainer, and adjusting their workouts when they were having a mentally stressful day.
Overall, I shifted my entire focus towards the exact problems my current roster of clients had, and worked on learning how to help with those things. Even if they weren't typical trainer problems. I would even send them articles for videos that I found, if I thought they would be beneficial for them. Going the extra mile really improved my clients experience, and is a major part of our philosophy on personal training.
Knowledge is extremely important for trainers, and so is a genuine passion about health and fitness. But, if a trainers number one focus is not on doing their absolute best for the people they work with, they won't be able to fully maximize their clients experience, which is why caring is number one.
If you want to work with a trainer that genuinely cares about helping you reach your goals, then we can help. All of the trainers on our team are invested in clients success, in addition to being knowledgeable and passionate about health and fitness. If you would like help from one of them, then give us a call or book a free Transformation session. At that session you will do a detailed consultation, a short workout, and then your trainer will put together a plan for you to achieve your goals. Click here to get started!